The Genesis of the anti India Rhetoric in Britain.
At the outset I would like to say that the vast majority of British people have great respect and admiration for India and Indian people. It is the people controlling the media and politicians with vested interests that have relentlessly targeted India ever since it got independence. There were doubting Thomas’s who did not expect India as a nation to last long. How they wondered, a poverty ridden country(we shan’t say how they became poor) so vast and so diverse could last even a few years. How they wondered would India’s democracy last with so many religions, languages and political ideologies. There were regional parties with their own agendas and there was a fully fledged communist regime in power in Bengal. The Bengal comrades would read a quote from Chairman Mao before starting their politburo meeting!
In the USA, the bedrock of democracy, the MCcartthists hunted down any known communists and in Britain the ‘Reds’ were kept under a very watchful eye by the state. Indian democracy believing in true diversity let the communists in Bengal run the show and they were eventually kicked out by the people. India confounded all the India experts in USA and Britain.
As the cold war raged between the West and the Soviet Union in the 50’s,India along with some other countries championed the non-aligned policy. It refused to take sides. This enraged both the USA and Britain. How can a poverty ridden India have the audacity to remain neutral? Following the dictum of if you are not with us you’re against us, India became a state which needed to be put in its place. Ever since then India’s enemies were propped up and the media intensified its propaganda campaign.
In this propaganda war the British media found unexpected allies and they were Indian’s themselves!
Let me introduce you to Nirad Chaudhary.
He was a Bengali and an enormous anglophile. A product of Bengali intelligentsia he had thoroughly absorbed British culture. In 1970 he settled in Oxford. In his various books he expressed regret that the British left India. All that was good he claimed was made, shaped and quickened by British rule. Hindus according to him were insular, inward-looking xenophobic creatures. This guy did not pull any punches in his dislike of Indian’s. On Nirad Chaudhry’s 100th birthday celebrated in Oxford he received messages from the Queen and, wait for it, the president of India!
Let me introduce you to VS Naipaul. He was of Indian heritage born in Trinidad. A Booker prize winner he wrote books like, ‘An area of Darkness, A million Mutinies, and India a wounded civilisation. He said he hated Indian’s. He said India was a wretched country, full of pompous mediocrity with no future. In his later years Naipaul changed his views of India but it was too little too late. He had his Booker prize! There are other Booker prize winners who have obliged the British media.Namely Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy. Over the last 50 years I haven’t come across a single Indian academic, writer or the many Indian members of the House of Lords who have spoken up for India with any conviction. On the other hand most of them criticise India at every opportunity. This is something very peculiar as I do not know of any other nationality that writes so negatively of their mother country. India needs to research as to what is lacking in its education system that some of their greatest minds abroad develop such an antipathy for their motherland.
Let me introduce you to Mark Tully. A man Indian’s have made an honorary Indian. A correspondent for the BBC in India. He is proud that the world listens to the BBC for impartial news! Being in India he is perhaps unaware of the depth of surreal shenanigans the BBC finds itself in. Here are some of his views: As a Christian he believes that Christianity more than any other religion is a sanctuary of the disenfranchised. He is worried about the persecution of Christian and other minorities under the Modi government. Evangelical Christians are claiming persecution in India not because they are persecuted but because their targeting of Hindus for conversion is coming under scrutiny. The sources of their funding which runs into hundreds of millions of rupees is being questioned.
Mark says India does not necessarily have to be a great power. It can be a great example! He believes it demeans India to go on blaming Pakistan. It needs to resolve its disputes with Pakistan with ‘generosity’. He feels Hinduism’s biggest festival the Kumbh Mela feeds superstition and ends up with different religious gurus claiming superiority over others. No one seems to challenge Mark in India!
Let me introduce Wiliam Dalrymple. This Scottish man living in Delhi does not know the history of India beyond the Mughals. In fact he says there was no India before the British came. India he says may be ancient but its unity is rare and recent! He says Modi is an embarrassment. Again William has hardly any challenges to his pronouncements on India.
Last week British parliamentarians got together to condemn India on its Kashmir policy,on the persecution of the minorities and the farmers protest! Padma Shri awardee Barry Gardiner MP for Harrow spoke up for India.It was however well choreographed. He agreed there was persecution of minorities in India. He pointed out he was a Christian. A few years ago Barry voted for the Caste legislation in the UK despite a huge opposition from the Hindu community.
India is a country which has welcomed many persecuted minorities to its shores.The Zorostarians, Bahai and Tibetan Buddhists have all found a safe home in India. The Jewish people acknowledge that India is one of the few countries where they have never faced any persecution. They have been in India for two thousand years.
During the debate on India one MP suggested that along with,’our European colleagues’ pressure should be applied on India’! Brexit seems to have flown over the head of this MP! Another MP wanted a fact finding mission to India. Fact finding missions are one of the biggest perks for the members of parliament. Nothing much ever comes out of it. Yet another MP wanted a trade embargo with India. Post Brexit the UK is looking to do huge trade deals with India which has a market of 1.3 billion people. These MPs know that nothing will come out from their debates but it will keep their vote bank secure.
For the first time the Indian High Commission in London responded to debates in the parliament. However, it was too defensive and not robust enough.
Where does the fault lie?
Despite India being a world economic and military power it cannot shake off the perception that it is weak and easily pushed around. Let us look at China. The Covid pandemic started in China but no one dare blame it. The world has busied itself in fighting Covid. Millions have died and life as we know it has been disrupted. Now if Covid had started in India the very fabric of Indian society would have been condemned. That is the difference between the strong and those perceived to be weak. In the Ramayana when the time comes for Hanuman to fly to Lanka he is engulfed with doubts. He had to be reminded who he was and what he was capable of. India too needs to be reminded to shake off the weak image.
While a huge number of countries are engulfed in civil wars,India is a robust democracy where all the minorities go about their lives with full freedom. One myth that needs to be bust is that a majority is always
in the wrong simply because it is a majority. Minorities can also be awkward and confrontational.
It is obvious that those who scream of persecution of minorities cannot tolerate the Hindu majority rightly reclaiming its ancient heritage.
15 January 2020